Sun | Oct 25, 2020

Hundreds of thousands still without power in Hurricane Sally cleanup

Published:Friday | September 18, 2020 | 3:40 PM
A car is covered in branches in the aftermath of Hurricane Sally, Friday, September 18, 2020, in Pensacola, Florida. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

LOXLEY, Alabama (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people were still without power Friday along the Alabama coast and the Florida Panhandle in the aftermath of Hurricane Sally as officials assessed millions of dollars in damage that included a broken bridge in Pensacola and ships thrown onto dry land.

While the cleanup pressed on, the record-shattering hurricane season notched another milestone: Forecasters ran out of traditional names for storms, forcing them to begin using the Greek alphabet for only the second time since the 1950s.

In Loxley, Alabama, Catherine Williams lost power and some of her roof to Sally.

The storm also destroyed three pecan trees in her yard that she used to try to make ends meet.

“There’s no food, no money. I took my last heart pill today,” said Williams, who has been laid off twice from her job as a cook because of the economic problems caused by COVID-19. She hoped that the Red Cross would soon show up at her home.

Two people in Alabama were reported killed — a drowning and a death during the cleanup in Baldwin County.

In Florida, authorities were looking for a missing kayaker who was feared dead in Escambia County.

The supercharged Atlantic hurricane season has produced so many named storms that scientists ran out of traditional names as Tropical Storm Wilfred developed in the eastern Atlantic.

It was only the second time that has happened since forecasters standardised the naming system in 1953. Wilfred was weak and far from land.

Two hours after Wilfred took shape, the National Hurricane Center moved to the Greek alphabet when Subtropical Storm Alpha formed just off the coast of Portugal.

Next up is Beta and so on for the rest of hurricane season, which lasts until the end of November.

Forecasters are watching at least two other systems, including one that is a tropical depression in the western Gulf of Mexico.

The only time the hurricane center dipped into the Greek alphabet was the deadly 2005 hurricane season, which included Hurricane Katrina’s strike on New Orleans.

The prior record for the earliest 21st named storm was Wilma on October 8, 2005, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.

The onslaught of hurricanes has focused attention on climate change, which scientists say is causing wetter, stronger and more destructive storms.

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